Frequently Asked Questions
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy focuses on the skills for the job of living. The very word "occupation" refers to an activity which "occupies" a person's time. Pediatric occupational therapy focuses on helping children gain the skills needed for their daily occupations. Occupations in childhood include play, socialization, self-care, and school performance. For example, an infant has the occupation of eating and self-soothing; older children have the occupation of playing and learning.
Occupational therapy uses purposeful goal directed activities to improve a child's performance in postural stability, sensory integration, motor planning, coordination, self-help skills, social interactions, and play abilities. For children, therapeutic intervention is often used in conjunction with play to enhance the child's engagement and involvement
What is Sensory Integration?
As a natural part of typical development, children process, interpret, and respond to sensory information. Sensations work together to provide the body with a descriptive picture of the world and our place in it. The integration of senses helps an individual to understand who they are, where they are, and what is happening around them. Without successful integration of the senses it is difficult for a person to interpret a situation accurately and make an appropriate response.
When occupational therapy practitioners address the sensory needs of individuals, they consider the registration, modulation, organization, and interpretation of information gained through the senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and perception of movement and position. Occupational therapy practitioners recognize that well-regulated sensory systems can contribute to important developmental outcomes in social-emotional, physical, communication, self-care, cognitive, and adaptive skill development.
Five to ﬁfteen percent of children in the general population demonstrate difficulties with sensory modulation (SMD) (Reynolds, et al, 2008). For many of these children, occupational therapy can help. There is a growing body of scientiﬁc evidence to support the importance of the sensory systems in human behavior and occupational performance (Baranek et al, 2002; Poulsen et al, 2007; White et al, 2007). Research has also provided indirect support for the use of a sensory integrative approach to intervention (Baranek, 2002; Miller & Schoen, 2007).
What is Sensory Processing?
A child’s response to touch, movement, visual and auditory stimuli as well as taste and smell can impact them in many ways. It can influence behavior, attention, impulse control, postural control and success in motor control and related functional skills. The sensory systems are our basic source of communication with our environment. The tactile or touch (skin) sensory system has many important functions, including providing us with the ability to know what an object is without looking (tactile discrimination) and identifying temperature and pain. Tactile sensation also plays a crucial role in the development of fine motor abilities and overall body awareness. Movement or the vestibular proprioceptive system consists of parts of the inner ear and related central nervous system structures which perceive and interpret changes in head position. It automatically coordinates movements of one's eyes, head and body. The proprioceptive system provides information related to the muscular and skeletal systems and therefore the position of one's body. These perceptual systems are essential for the development of body awareness and body and space abilities and in perceiving and adapting movement of the body. Vision consists of both the motor function of the eye as well as perception of visual information. The auditory system consists of hearing, speech and language, the child’s response to sound and their ability to perceive the spoken word and follow directions. Taste and smell consists of the child’s response to the stimulus as well as the impact this may have on functions such as eating and response to environments.
What is Fine Motor Coordination?
Fine Motor Skills refer to our ability to use our arms, hands, and fingers to grasp, hold, and manipulate smaller objects. These objects can range from a scissor,buttons, to a pencil, to a fruit; small items that most of us can hold onto with much ease. However, mastery of fine motor skills requires control and precision. For some children, it does not come so easily. This can affect functional performance in school, activities, and in the home.
What is Gross Motor Coordination?
Gross motor coordination refers to our ability to effectively perform gross motor skills. Our gross motor skills are those skills that use the large muscles of our body in order to do some of the main movement functions. These include running, skipping, jumping, hoping, and riding a bicycle as well as a broad variety of other activities, including most athletic abilities. Good muscle tone is needed for posture, balance, stamina and sustained muscle control in positions including sitting and standing. Children with low muscle tone often have difficulty with gross motor coordination. They may fatigue faster than their peers and appear clumsy, often affecting self-esteem and motivation to participate in many typical childhood activities. OT can address and improve gross motor development on many levels.
What are Handwriting Difficulties?
A parent should not be worried about your child’s actual handwriting at a young age. At Performance Pediatrics its more important to look at the child’s overall development of hand muscles, arches, grasp and release, hand thinking skills, and coordination. Poor handwriting is more often than not, a symptom of muscle weakness and/or more commonly an underlying sensory processing difficulty relating to how your child processes discriminative tactile (touch) input. Performance Pediatrics will work closely with the child to encourage activities (i.e. Handwriting Without Tears), in order to promote independence, strength, and motor coordination that will empower your child to enjoy handwriting.
What is the "Alert Program"?
The Alert Program was developed in order to assist individuals with self-regulation using sensory integration theory. This approach provides children and adults with the tools to change or maintain their level of alertness to better function within the environments in which they interact. The Alert Program uses the analogy of a car engine to relate to the levels of alertness. By providing a child with words, such as high, low, and just right, they can utilize strategies taught through the program to change how alert they are feeling. These strategies involve activities with the mouth, body, hands, eyes, and ears, fully encompassing a multi-sensory approach to self-regulation.
Although this program was initially created for children with learning difficulties and ADHD between ages 8-12, it has now been expanded to include preschool aged children through adulthood with a variety of disabilities. For more information please visit the Alert Program Website at www.alertprogram.com.
What is Handwriting Without Tears®?
Handwriting Without Tears® is a curriculum that uses hands-on, educationally sound instructional methods to teach handwriting.
Handwriting fluency is fundamental to learning because children think and write at the same time. When we teach children to write, we also teach them how to express themselves. If they struggle to form their letters, their ability to express themselves will be compromised. Children who do not master handwriting may be slow, sloppy, or illegible writers.
HWT curriculum focuses on fun and achievement to optimize children’s curiosity and joy of learning throughout school. The goal is to help students learn proper handwriting habits and then apply those habits naturally and automatically to all writing experiences that they will take throughout elementary school, high school, and beyond.
The HWT curriculum can begin when children enter kindergarten. Treatment methods include playing, singing and building letters. In doing so, they develop important skills they need in order to print words, sentences, paragraphs, and eventually transition to cursive. (Information retrieved from Handwriting Without Tears® at www.hwtears.com)
What is Interactive Metronome?
Interactive Metronome (IM) is the only training program that improves timing in the brain in an organized, systematic, flexible and engaging format. Research shows that combining movement and cognitive tasks leads to better overall outcomes. IM is a patented and unique training tool that challenges thinking and movement simultaneously, providing real time millisecond feedback to help synchronize the body's internal clock. Interactive Metronome is a unique system that progresses through 4 phases. Each phase has specific goals and exercises, advancing from easiest (hands only) to the most challenging (full body). The new IM universe offers a selection of games that will keep your child motivated, engaged and challenged. These games are fun for all ages, with some designed for younger children (monkey space invaders) younger adults (zen garden). Come check out the fun in training your brain and body to work better at Performance Pediatrics. (adapted from www.interactivemetronome.com)
What are the Zones of Regulation?
The Zones is a systematic, cognitive behavior approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four concrete zones. The Zones curriculum provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of, and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs, and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts. By addressing underlying deficits in emotional and sensory regulation, executive functions, and social cognition, the curriculum is designed to help move students toward independent regulation. The Zones of Regulation incorporates Social Thinking® (www.socialthinking.com) concepts and numerous visuals to teach students to identify their feelings/level of alertness, understand how their behavior impacts those around them, and learn what tools they can use to manage their feelings and states. At Performance, its important to utilize many strategies to help your child.
What is The Listening Program?
The Listening Program (TLP) is a music based program that is personalized to improve brain fitness at any age and any level of ability. TLP has shown to have global improvements to support change in brain performance: executive function, communication, motor coordination, auditory processing, social and emotional function, stress response, creativity.
Sound brain fitness reflects the idea that brain performance can be maintained or improved by engaging in healthy sound practices. This is not unlike the understanding that physical fitness is improved through exercising the body. One such practice is The Listening Program®. TLP involves listening to acoustically-modified instrumental music through high-quality headphones, or our Waves™ multi-sensory audio system to reduce stress, improve focus, self-regulation, learning, memory, and more. Our therapists at Performance Pediatrics are Certified and trained in The Listening Program. TLP can benefit anyone!
An addition to TLP, inTime provides a personalized program of listening training and fun movement activities, using body, drum, and voice to help you keep your beat, and flow with the rhythms of daily life. Created by the experts, inTime is an organic compilation of original compositions, based on a blend of world music with diverse percussion, string, and wind instrumentation, which accents the power of rhythm and sound frequencies. inTime was developed in the course of over 5 years by the multidisciplinary team behind The Listening Program®. The producers are occupational therapist Sheila Allen, composer and musician Nacho Arimany, and author, founder & CEO of Advanced Brain Technologies, Alex Doman. Get started right away and access your personalized program at Performance Pediatrics from home, clinic or work. You'll love Listening ! (adapted from www.advancedbrain.com)
What is the SOS Approach to Feeding?
The SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) approach to feeding program is an effective way to address problematic feeding behaviors in a variety of settings. The SOS approach addresses the "whole child" (i.e. organ development, sensory, oral motor, muscles, learning/behavior). The SOS approach focus is on the child's exploration and learning about different properties of food, and allows the child to interact with food in a playful, non-stressful way (moving on to touching, kissing, tasting, eating food) (adapted from www.sosapproach-conferences.com)
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